Spider-Man: Homecoming already has a ton of pressure on it. While the webslinger’s debut in Civil War was praised, he now has to try and carry a film on his own in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Making it even tougher is that the Sam Raimi trilogy has already adapted some of the best storylines and villains from the comics, and the Amazing series’ performance indicated that maybe there was franchise fatigue with Marvel’s most iconic character. That’s not even getting into the concerns that the shared universe’s influence (particularly Iron Man’s connection to Spidey in these films) would derail the character’s appeal. Director Jon Watts and new Spider-Man Tom Holland, much like the character himself in this film, have a lot to do in order to prove themselves.
Plot wise, the movie takes place after the events of Civil War, with Peter Parker attempting to settle into his new routine as both a high school student living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and a local superhero, his confidence bolstered by his new suit given to him by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Of course, like most teens trying to find their way in the world, Peter’s journey is filled with awkwardness as he hangs with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and bizarre snarky girl Michelle (Zendaya), has a crush on senior Liz (Laura Harrier), and butts heads with his rival/bully Flash Thompson (here interpreted as a smug rich kid as opposed to a jock by Tony Revolori). When his street level crime fighting leads him to an underground high tech weapon dealing ring led by the Vulture, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), Peter is going to have to discover what kind of man he wants to be if he wants to continue as a hero.
The Spidey-purist in me wants to be angry at the story, but I can’t. It’s just such a classic plot for the character when he’s a teen. It helps that the film knows when to be laugh-out-loud funny and when to be serious, striking a good balance that not every superhero movie can find. The 80’s teen movie influence is strong in this regard. The involvement of Tony Stark in Spidey’s suit, rather than anger me, instead allowed for all the random web types and little gadgets from the comics that have never appeared in film to finally show up (spider-tracers at last!). The film is especially helped by the supporting cast, who are all charming and funny in their own unique ways.
The two highlights, however, are Holland and Keaton as Spidey and the Vulture. Holland manages to find the right place between awkward nerd and cocky hero, something that previous actors had trouble with. He’s definitely the heart and soul of this film, finally giving us a Spider-Man that encompasses the whole range of the character instead of just certain depictions of him. On the other hand, Keaton, who is known among comic fans for being Batman, is just sinister fun as Vulture and somehow that makes one of the greatest comedy moments in the film which I refuse to spoil here. Throw in some amazing visuals and action sequences when the two clash, and entertainment is guaranteed.
Are there negatives? Sure, but they’re mainly minor. Outside of the great licensed music and an awesome orchestral version of the classic 60’s Spidey theme song, the soundtrack is not as memorable as past films featuring the character. There’s also an easter egg/twist near the end that is rather groan-worthy, but those are small complaints in the grand scope of things.
At its core, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a love letter to Spidey fans whose hopes that Marvel Studios would give them a great movie are rewarded. There are tons of easter eggs for sharp eyed and eared fans, and they even manage to finally replicate one of the most iconic moments in Spider-Man’s history on the big screen. Put lightly, this is definitely one of, if not the best, Spider-Man movies out there now. Yes, it’s in danger of dethroning Spider-Man 2, because while that film adapted one of the best stories and dealt with the angst and sacrifice that being a hero puts on Peter Parker’s life, this film tells an original story that focuses on how, in spite of how much trouble it puts him through, being a hero in the face of adversity is one of the greatest things about the character.
I can’t emphasize this enough, go and watch this movie as soon as possible.